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A Clockwork Orange

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A vicious fifteen-year-old droog is the central character of this 1963 classic. In Anthony Burgess's nightmare vision of the future, where criminals take over after dark, the story is told by the central character, Alex, who talks in a brutal invented slang that brilliantly renders his and his friends' social pathology. A Clockwork Orange is a frightening fable about good and evil, and the meaning of human freedom. And when the state undertakes to reform Alex to "redeem" him, the novel asks, "At what cost?"

This edition includes the controversial last chapter not published in the first edition and Burgess's introduction "A Clockwork Orange Resucked."

192 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1962

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About the author

Anthony Burgess

247 books3,704 followers
Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.

Anthony Burgess was a British novelist, critic and composer. He was also a librettist, poet, playwright, screenwriter, essayist, travel writer, broadcaster, translator, linguist and educationalist. Born in Manchester, he lived for long periods in Southeast Asia, the USA and Mediterranean Europe as well as in England. His fiction includes the Malayan trilogy (The Long Day Wanes) on the dying days of Britain's empire in the East; the Enderby quartet of novels about a poet and his muse; Nothing Like the Sun, a recreation of Shakespeare's love-life; A Clockwork Orange, an exploration of the nature of evil; and Earthly Powers, a panoramic saga of the 20th century. He published studies of Joyce, Hemingway, Shakespeare and Lawrence, produced the treatises on linguistics Language Made Plain and A Mouthful of Air, and was a prolific journalist, writing in several languages. He translated and adapted Cyrano de Bergerac, Oedipus the King, and Carmen for the stage; scripted Jesus of Nazareth and Moses the Lawgiver for the screen; invented the prehistoric language spoken in Quest for Fire; and composed the Sinfoni Melayu, the Symphony (No. 3) in C, and the opera Blooms of Dublin.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 19,433 reviews
Profile Image for Martine.
145 reviews692 followers
March 22, 2008
A Clockwork Orange is one of those books which everyone has heard of but which few people have actually read –- mostly, I think, because it is preceded by a reputation of shocking ultra-violence. I’m not going to deny here that the book contains violence. It features lengthy descriptions of heinous crimes, and they’re vivid descriptions, full of excitement. (Burgess later wrote in his autobiography: ‘I was sickened by my own excitement at setting it down.’) Yet it does not glorify violence, nor is it a book about violence per se. Rather it’s an exploration of the morality of free will. Of whether it is better to choose to be bad than to be conditioned to be good. Of alienation and how to deal with the excesses to which such alienation may lead. And ultimately, of one man’s decision to say goodbye to all that. (At least in the UK version. The American version, on which Stanley Kubrick’s film adaptation was based, ends on a less optimistic note.) In short, it’s a novella of ideas which just happens to contain a fair bit of violence.

It is also quite an artistic and linguistic achievement. Those who have seen the film will know that Alex (the anti-hero) and his droogs (friends) speak a made-up language full of Russian loanwords, Shakespearean and Biblical influences and Cockney rhyming slang. Initially this nadsat language was nearly incomprehensible to me, and my first response to it was bad. I found myself cursing Burgess, telling him that it wasn’t fair to put his readers through something like that. (If I want to read an incomprehensible book, I’ll read Finnegans Wake, thank you very much.) However, Burgess takes great care to introduce his new words in an understandable way, so after a few pages I got the hang of the nadsat lingo, and after a few more pages I actually began to enjoy it, because I’m enough of a linguist to go in for that sort of thing. I found myself loving the Russian loanwords, rejoicing when I recognised a German loanword among them and enjoying the Shakespearean quality of Alex’ dialogues. I finished the book with an urgent wish to learn Russian and read more Shakespeare. I doubt many readers will respond to the book in that way (not everyone shares my enthusiasm for languages and classical stuff), but my point is: you’ll get used to the lingo, and at some point you’ll begin to admire it, because for one thing, Burgess is awfully consistent about it, and for another, it just sounds so damned good. I mean, if you’re going to come up with a new word for ‘crazy’, you might as well choose bezoomny, right? Because it actually sounds mad. Doesn’t it?

Anyhow, there’s more to A Clockwork Orange than just philosophical ideas and linguistic pyrotechnics. The writing itself is unexpectedly lyrical, and not just when it deals with violence. Some of the most beautiful passages in the book deal with music. More specifically, classical music, because for all his wicked ways, Alex has a passion for classical music. He particularly adores Beethoven, an adoration I happen to share. I came away from the book thinking I might consent to becoming Alex’ devotchka (woman, wife) simply because he is capable of getting carried away by Beethoven’s Ninth and hates having it spoilt for him. He’s cultured, is Alex, and while his culturedness obviously does not equal civilisation and goodness (a point he himself is quick to make), it does put him a notch above the average hooligan. It’s the apparent dichotomy between Alex’ tastes in art and his taste for violence which makes him such an interesting protagonist and which keeps you following his exploits to their not entirely believable (but good) conclusion.

In short, then, A Clockwork Orange is an excellent book –- a bit challenging at first, but gripping and interesting and full of style and ideas. Not many books can claim as much.
Profile Image for Cecily.
1,137 reviews4,178 followers
May 10, 2018
How to review an infamous book about which so much has already been said? By avoiding reading others’ thoughts until I’ve written mine.

There are horrors in this book, but there is beauty too, and so much to think about. The ends of the book justify the means of its execution, even if the same is not true of what happens in the story.

Book vs Film, and Omission of Final Chapter

I saw the film first, and read the book shortly afterwards. Usually a bad idea, but in this case, being familiar with the plot and the Nadsat slang made it easier to relax (if that's an appropriate word, given some of the horrors to come) into the book. The film is less hypnotic and far more shocking than the book, because it is more visual and because, like the US version of the book, it omits the more optimistic final chapter.

The British censors originally passed the film - uncut. But a year later, it was cited as possibly inspiring a couple of murders, leading to threats against Kubrick's family. The year after that, Kubrick asked for it to be withdrawn, and it was, even though he said
"To try and fasten any responsibility on art as the cause of life seems to me to put the case the wrong way around."

See Withdrawl of film from UK screens
Omission of final chapter

Plot and Structure

It is a short novel, comprising three sections of seven chapters, told by “your humble narrator”, Alex. In the first section, Alex and his teenage gang indulge in “ultra-violence” (including sexual assault of young girls); in the middle section, Alex is in prison and then undergoes a horrific new treatment (a sort of aversion therapy); the final section follows him back in the real world, rejected by his parents, now the puppet of opposing political factions. The whole thing is set in a slightly dystopian, very near future and explores issues of original sin, punishment and revenge, free will, and the nature of evil.

One awful incident involves breaking in to a writer’s house and gang raping his wife, who later dies. A similar incident happened to Burgess’ first wife (though he wasn’t there at the time). Writing a fictionalised account from the point of view of the perpetrator is extraordinary: charitable, cathartic, or a more complex mixture?


Why is Alex as he is?
“What I do I do because I like to do”, and perhaps there is no more that can be said. As Alex ponders, “this biting of their toe-nails over what is the CAUSE of badness is what turns me into a fine laughing malchick. They don’t go into the cause of GOODNESS… badness is of the self… and that self is made by old Bog or God and is his great pride and radosty”.

Can people like Alex be cured, and if so, how?
Imprisonment, police brutality, fire and brimstone don’t work. Enter the Ludovico Technique, whereby Alex is injected with emetics before being strapped, with his eyelids held open, to watch videos of extreme physical and sexual violence. He becomes conditioned to be unable to commit such acts, or even to watch or think about them. This raises more questions than it solves. The prison governor prefers the old “eye for an eye”, but has to give in to the new idea of making bad people good. “The question is whether such a technique can really make a man good. Goodness comes from within… Goodness is something chosen. When a man cannot choose he ceases to be a man.” The chaplain has doubts, too, “Is a man who chooses the bad perhaps in some way better than a man who has the good imposed upon him?” On the other hand, by consenting to the treatment, Alex is, in an indirect way, choosing to be good.

The technique (or torture) is promoted as making Alex “sane” and “healthy” so that he can be “a free man”, but although he is released from prison, he remains imprisoned by the power of the technique, even to the extent that the music he loves now makes him sick (because it was playing in the background) and his inability to defend himself means he becomes a victim.

Do the ends justify the means?
Dr Brodsky thinks so: “We are not concerned with motive, with the higher ethics. We are only concerned with cutting down crime.” However, if it wears off, it will all have been for nothing.

The possibility of redemption is a common thread, reaching its peak in this final chapter. Burgess was raised as a Catholic, educated in Catholic schools, but lost his faith aged sixteen. He continued to have profound interest in religious ideas, though, as explained here.

The final chapter (omitted from US editions of the book until 1986, and also the film) feels incongruously optimistic in some ways, but by suggesting the true answer as to what will cure delinquency is… maturity, it might be thought the most pessimistic chapter. Is teen violence an inevitable cycle: something people grow into, and then out of when they start to see their place in the bigger picture? And if so, is that acceptable to society?

Language - Nadsat Slang

A distinctive feature of the book is the Nadsat slang that Alex and his droogs use (“nadsat” is the Russian suffix for “teen” – see here). Burgess invented it from Russian with a bit of Cockney rhyming slang and Malay, because real teen slang is so ephemeral, the book would quickly seem dated otherwise. He wanted the book published without a glossary, and it is written so carefully, that the meaning is usually clear, and becomes progressively so, as you become accustomed to it: “a bottle of beer frothing its gulliver off and a horrorshow rookerful of like plum cake” and “There’s only one veshch I require… having my malenky bit of fun with real droogs”. Where an English word is used literally and metaphorically, the Nadsat one is too; for example, “viddy” is used to see with one’s eyes and to understand someone’s point.

The skill of carefully used context makes Russian-based Nadsat much easier to follow than the dialect of Riddley Walker (see my review HERE), even though the latter is based on mishearings of English. (To be fair, the whole of Riddley Walker is written in dialect, whereas in Clockwork Orange, it's conventional English with a generous smattering of slang.)

Where the meaning isn't immediately obvious or is merely vague, you go with the flow until it seeps into your consciousness (much as would happen if you were dropped into an environment where you had no language in common with anyone else). It's another way of sucking the reader into Alex's world and his gang.

Nadsat lends a mesmerising and poetic aspect to the text that is in sharp contrast to the revulsion invoked by some of the things Alex does: tolchocking a starry veck doesn’t sound nearly as bad as beating an old man into a pulp - Nadsat acts as a protective veil. In the film, this effect is somewhat diluted because you SEE these acts.

The book was like published in 1962 and Alex frequently uses “like” as an interjection as I did earlier in this sentence – something that has become quite a common feature of youth speak in recent times. What happened in between, I wonder?

Other than that, much of what Alex says has echoes of Shakespeare and the King James Bible: “Come, gloopy bastard thou art. Think thou not on them” and “If fear thou hast in thy heart, o brother, pray banish it forthwith” and “Fear not. He canst taketh care of himself, verily”. There is always the painful contrast of beautiful language describing unpleasant and horrific things.

Similarly, the repetition of a few phrases is almost liturgical. Alex addresses his readers as “oh my brothers”, which is unsettling: if I’m one of his brothers, am I in some way complicit, or at least condoning, what he does? Another recurring phrase is, “What’s it going to be then, eh?” It is the opening phrase of each section and used several times in the first chapter of each section.


Burgess was a composer, as well as a writer, and Alex has a passion for classical music, especially “Ludwig van”. This may be partly a ploy to make the book more ageless than if he loved, for example, Buddy Holly, but more importantly, it’s another way of creating dissonance: a deep appreciation of great art is not “supposed” to coexist with mindless delinquency.

Alex has lots of small speakers around his room, so “I was like netted and meshed in the orchestra”, and the music is his deepest joy: “Oh bliss, bliss and heaven. I lay all nagoy to the ceiling… sloshing the sluice of lovely sounds. Oh it was gorgeousness and gorgeosity made flesh.” The treatment destroys this pleasure- with dramatic results.

Horror and Beauty, Sympathy for a Villain

Ultimately, I think Alex is sympathetic villain: he has a seductive exuberance and charm and although he does horrific things, when awful things are done to him, sympathy flows.

Yes, there are horrors in this book, but there is beauty too, and so much to think about. The ends of the book justify the means of its execution, even if the same is not true of what happens in the story. Brilliant.

Jabberwock in Nadsat

Thanks to Forrest for finding this brilliant hybrid:
Profile Image for Mario the lone bookwolf.
805 reviews3,851 followers
July 7, 2023
Just leave the Milk Bar to go bonkers

Not as awesome as expected
A classic, probably a bit overrated book, and one of the rare cases in which I would say that the movie is better than the book. The most unnecessary thing was to add an extra chapter at the end that took the flow, logic, and atmosphere out of the whole thing. Nice development of an own language, but also not as cool as other examples. The whole dystopic brainwashing idea is one of the best elements.

It reminds me of many overrated classics that form 3 stages or categories of boredom.

Books that for no understandable reason have to be read in school, depending on the country's culture, and are mainly focused on the bad, outdated, old, very long time dead, writers of each country, so that there are individual purgatories for young readers in each state.

Nobel prize, nothing to add, the same with peace and economics, it´s just a bad joke. But many don´t seem to get it and take it seriously.

Be creative without caring about conventions
Clockwork Orange is in the third category: Books that use complex, not absolutely logical or even not for the author understandable, unstable plots and inconsistent ideas to be progressive, provocative, and sell more by activating the bite reflexes of conservatives, bigots, and philistines and give nothing on the thousands of years old conventions of writing for the pleasure of the reader. I´ve read much of all 3 categories and must say that it´s the same as with modern art: If there is no recognizable concept, many others could do the same, and if it´s not universally acclaimed a masterpiece, it´s probably average or completely inexplicably overhyped trash.

One hit wonder if average ratings of the author´s other works aren´t that thrilling
Clockwork Orange is one of the better ones, but it would be nothing without Kubricks´adaption, and looking at the general ratings and popularity of all of Burgess´other works, one can see the picture of a one hit wonder.

Tropes show how literature is conceptualized and created and which mixture of elements makes works and genres unique:
Profile Image for Lyn.
1,882 reviews16.6k followers
January 5, 2020
"What's it going to be then, eh?" A linguistic adventure, O my brothers.

I had seen the Kubrick film and so reading the novella was on the list. I very much enjoyed it, was surprised to learn that American publishers and Kubrick had omitted the crucial last chapter that provides some moral denouement to the ultra-violence.

As disturbingly good as this is, one aspect that always comes back to me is Burgess' creation of and use of the Nadsat language. This provides color and mystery to the narrative and it is noteworthy that Burgess' intent was to soften the blow of the violent themes of the book.

** 2018 addendum - it is a testament to great literature that a reader recalls the work years later and this is a book about which I frequently think. This is a book that, for me at least, is connected to the Stanley Kubrick film. I don't always watch a movie after I've read the book, and when I do I usually draw a distinction between the two, but these two works remain indelibly connected in my mind and recollection. The most noteworthy contrast is the omission of the last chapter from the film. Burgess' ending provides a settling of accounts while Kubrick's vision leaves the viewer edgy and uncomfortable.

Profile Image for Paul Bryant.
2,217 reviews9,892 followers
May 16, 2010
In 1960 Anthony Burgess was 43 and had written 4 novels and had a proper job teaching in the British Colonial Service in Malaya and Brunei. Then he had a collapse and the story gets complicated. But I like the first cool version AB told, which was that he was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour and given a year to live. Since as you know he lived a further 33 years, we may conclude the doctors were not entirely correct. However - the doctor tells you you have a year to live - what do you do?* Lapse into a major depression? Get drunk and stay drunk? Buy a Harley davidson? Not if you were Anthony Burgess. Uxorious regard for his wife's future security bade him to place his arse on a chair in the unpleasing English seaside town of Hove and type out five and a half novels in the one year left to him, which, he later pointed out, was approximately equivalent to E M Forster's entire lifetime output. And the last of these five completed novels was A Clockwork Orange.

No mean feat.

So, this little novel should be on everyone who hasn't read it's must read list. It's a real hoot, and it's absolutely eerie in its predictions about youth culture and recreational drug use. It's also very famous for its hilarious language, all those malenky droogs, horrorshow devotchkas and gullivers and lashings of the old in-out in-out - the reader must be warned that it's very catching and you will for sure begin boring all your friends and family about tolchocking the millicents and creeching on your platties and suchlike. They'll give you frosty looks and begin avoiding you at the breakfast table, but you won't be able to help it. In extreme cases they might smeck your grazhny yarbles and that will definately shut you up.

* Reminds me of the old joke where the doctor says to the guy "I'm sorry to say you only have three minutes to live." Guy says "Isn't there anything you can do for me?" Doctor says "I could boil you an egg."
Profile Image for emma.
1,869 reviews54.5k followers
May 3, 2023
i've owned this book for 7 years and it wasn't even on my to read list. which gives an indication of how excited i am to read it

update: even anthony burgess doesn't get the appeal of this one.

this is one of those books that i can see why it'd be great to assign as school required reading, but...pretty meh in adult life!

bottom line: the nicest thing i can say about this is that i'm pretty sure i would have liked it more if i was discussing it at 7:45 am with 20 miserable adolescents.
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,564 reviews27 followers
August 10, 2021
(Book 437 from 1001 books) - A Clockwork Orange – Anthony Burgess

A Clockwork Orange is a dystopian novel by English writer Anthony Burgess, published in 1962.

Set in a near future English society featuring a subculture of extreme youth violence, the teenage protagonist, Alex, narrates his violent exploits and his experiences with state authorities intent on reforming him. The book is partially written in a Russian-influenced argot called "Nadsat".

Part 1: Alex's world Alex is a 15-year-old living in a near-future dystopian city who leads his gang on a night of opportunistic, random "ultra-violence".

Alex's friends ("droogs" in the novel's Anglo-Russian slang, "Nadsat") are Dim, a slow-witted bruiser, who is the gang's muscle; Georgie, an ambitious second-in-command; and Pete, who mostly plays along as the droogs indulge their taste for ultra-violence.

Characterised as a sociopath and hardened juvenile delinquent, Alex is also intelligent, quick-witted, and enjoys classical music; he is particularly fond of Beethoven, whom he calls "Lovely Ludwig Van". ...

Part 2: The Ludovico Technique Alex is convicted of murder and sentenced to 14 years in Wandsworth Prison. His parents visit one day to inform him that Georgie has been killed in a botched robbery. Two years into his term, he has obtained a job in one of the prison chapels, playing music on the stereo to accompany the Sunday Christian services. The chaplain mistakes Alex's Bible studies for stirrings of faith; in reality, Alex is only reading Scripture for the violent or sexual passages. ...

Part 3: After prison Alex returns to his parents' flat, only to find that they are letting his room to a lodger. Now homeless, he wanders the streets and enters a public library, hoping to learn of a painless method for committing suicide. The old scholar whom Alex had assaulted in Part 1 finds him and beats him, with the help of several friends. Two policemen come to Alex's rescue, but they turn out to be Dim and Billyboy, a former rival gang leader. They take Alex outside of town, brutalise him, and abandon him there. ...

تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز یازدهم ماه اکتبر سال 2002 میلادی

عنوان: پرتقال کوکی؛ نوشته: آنتونی برجس؛ مترجم: پریرخ هاشمی؛ مشخصات نشر تهران، تمندر، 1381، در 211ص، شابک 9649040633؛ موضوع: داستانهای نویسندگان بریتانیا - سده 20م

عنوان: پرتقال کوکی؛ نوشته: آنتونی برجس؛ مترجم: بهنام باقری؛ مشخصات نشر تهران، میلکان، 1394، در 180ص، شابک 9786007845264؛

عنوان: پرتقال کوکی؛ نویسنده و اقتباس استنلی کوبریک؛ مترجم: محمدمهدی فیاضی کیا؛ مشخصات نشر تهران، افراز، 1389، در 135 ص، شابک 9649789642432257؛

رمانی درباره ی نافرمانی گروهکی از جوانان در برابر قانون و جامعه، در آینده‌ ی کابوس‌وار است؛ «الکس»، یک نوجوان پانزده ‌ساله، داستان خود را به گویش ابداعی به نام «ندست» بازگو می‌کند، «استنلی کوبریک» از همین کتاب، فیلمنامه ای با همین عنوان برگرفته، و بنگاشته اند، پس همین عنوان فارسی از آنِ، آن فیلمنامه، و همان اقتباس نیز هست، فیلمنامه ی «استنلی کوبریک» با ترجمه جناب آقای «محمدمهدی فیاضی کیا»، را نشر افراز، در سال 1389هجری خورشیدی منتشر کرده، جناب «فربد آذسن» هم همین کتاب را در 172ص ترجمه کرده اند؛

پرتقال کوکی کمدی سیاه هجوآمیز پادآرمان‌شهری، از «آنتونی برجس» نویسنده ی اهل «بریتانیا» است، که نخستین بار در سال 1962میلادی منتشر شد؛ داستان در آینده‌ای نزدیک رخ می‌دهد، در زمانه‌ ای که خرده‌ فرهنگ خشونت در میان نسل جوان جامعه رواج دارد؛ «الکس»، قهرمان نوجوان داستان، رفتارهای خشن خود را روایت می‌کند؛ تفریح او و داستانش آزار فیزیکی و جنسی شهروندان بی‌گناه است؛ طی یکی از این ماجراها، «الکس» دستگیر و به زندان می‌افتد؛ دولت مدعی است روش نوینی برای اصلاح مجرمان یافته که می‌تواند جایگزین زندان شود؛ «الکس» داوطلبانه تن به درمان می‌دهد اما درمی‌یابد که آن روش چیزی کمتر از شکنجه و خشونت دولتی نیست؛ کتاب تا حدی به زبان مخفی «آرگو» به نام «ندست» نگاشته شده که متأثر از زبان «روسیه» است؛

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 08/06/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 17/05/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Henry Avila.
468 reviews3,255 followers
July 28, 2023
In the near future in an Utopian socialist country, England where everyone has to work ( except the ill or old) whether the job makes any sense or not, a group of teenagers like to party without limits at night. Alex the leader, George 2nd in command, Pete the most sane and the big dim Dim, he's good with his boots, fun loving kids. Your humble narrator Alex, will tell this story my brothers ...First they see an ancient man leaving the library carrying books, very suspicious nobody goes there now, inspecting these filthy things and ripping them to pieces, not forgetting a few punches on the offender to stop this evil habit, next entering a shop and borrowing some needed money, the owner and wife have to be persuaded with just a little force for this honor, then teaching a scummy drunk in the street the evil of his ways, pounding some sense into his addled brain. Meeting old friends Billyboy and company, in a dark alley, they exchange love taps but boys sometimes play too hard, drops of blood fall lovingly to the ground. When so many noisy sirens go off these peaceful youths, leave this unhealthy place. Getting tired of walking the gang goes on a joy ride, after spotting the empty car not being used! The friends decide to travel to the countryside, leaving dirty London behind for fresh air, the beauty of the land, the woods, tiny critters to watch and the slow ones on the road to be put out of their misery with a merciful crunch. Viewing a mailbox with the name of Home on it how delightful, this cottage's welcoming couple lets the group in for a spot of tea, they're wearing masks to enliven the carnival atmosphere, even though the man is a creepy writer... ugh. Would you read something called A Clockwork Orange? What a silly title for the good of the world, these pages are scattered everywhere, flying high to the ceiling and floating down below to be properly trashed on the floor by the good doers. Exchanging warm greetings with the wife, Alex your humble narrator my brothers and associates, go back to the city it's getting late, school tomorrow... ultra- violent fun must end ... His frightened parents don't ask too many questions at his small , but dumpy apartment a place they share. His room full of records of classical music, Ludwig Van a favorite to inspire him, which he plays very loud and his parents don't dare to complain anymore. Later Alex is sent to prisoner for a long term murder they say, framed what rot, he is 15. His cell he shares with five other men, nasty criminals all unlike Alex, one will have to sleep on the floor, his fists will not let him be the one ...Doctors Branom and Brodsky ignorant fellows they don't understand his slang, have a new technique to cure his violent behavior, as some people call it two weeks and a free man, let the torture begin...A magnificent fable of what might be...
Profile Image for Sean Barrs .
1,119 reviews44.8k followers
April 28, 2018
Rebellion can take on many forms and in A Clockwork Orange it takes on the form of language: the spoken word.

All societies have their constraints, though breaking through them is often difficult. What the “poor” disaffected youth do here is create their own system of communication that is so utterly theirs. Every word carries history, and by destroying such words the youngster are proposing a break from tradition: they are proposing something new. This idea is captured when they attack the “bourgeoisie” professor in the opening scene; they beat him, tear his books apart and strip him naked in the streets. It is an act of aggression and power; it is an act that is infused with jealousy and rage. The lower classes are sick of the elites, and the poor are sick of the rich. And they want to stand on their own two feet.

“Is it better for a man to have chosen evil than to have good imposed upon him?”



However, despite the symbolic nature of the scene, it also demonstrates the rash nature of such youths. In their actions they perpetuate such divisions and class divides. They never stop to consider that perhaps the professor could be sympathetic to their cause. They just don't care; they enjoy violence too much. Instead they just see and object of power, knowledge and wealth, so they attempt to destroy it. Having passion and a strong will are vital for social change, but using such things sensibly and at the right time is also of equal importance. I'm not an advocate of violence, but they could have used that better and more productively too.

Society fears them; it fears these boys that represent dissatisfaction and anger. How far can they go? How powerful could they become? What will the future hold? Burgress shows us a speculative future, a “what if” situation that is not implausible. The novel is advisory; it suggests that something needs to be done to society in order to avoid the pitfall the gang fell into here. Like all significant literature, the work has a universal quality: it is as relevant today as it was when it was first published in the 1970s because it shows us what unbridled and misguided temper can achieve.

Alex (the gang leader) is thrown into jail after committing a particularly nasty crime. The doctors then attempt to rehabilitate him through psychological treatment based on schema theory and the rules of conditioning and association. Afterwards, the thought of violence sickens him physically and he is thrown out into a world that hates him and one he can no longer survive him. He is completely failed by society, but it is near impossible to have sympathy with such a reckless anarchist. He is violent and spiteful.

A Clockwork Orange is a postmodern masterpiece because of its experimental style, language and allegorical content. However, it is also an extremely difficult book to read and an even harder one to enjoy. The slang frustrated me; it was understandable but very dense at times. It’s a clever device, but an agenising one. I disliked this element for the same reason I will never attempt to read Finnegan’s Wake by James Joyce. I liked to get lost. I don’t like to have to put effort in when I read; perhaps I’m a lazy reader. Regardless though, it was a huge relief to actually finish. I’m still going to watch the film, and I do think I may enjoy it a little more than this.
Profile Image for Michael Finocchiaro.
Author 3 books5,634 followers
June 9, 2022
Like many I suppose, I saw Kubrick's film long ago without having read the book until now. Part punk rock version of Finnegans Wake, part scalding criticism of UK society in the 50s, Burgess' dystopian Center is a real "horrorshow" (in a non-ACO interpretation of the word) of violence. Alex is a terrifying character - every bit as evil as the Joker or Anton Chigurh whose state-sponsored brainwashing is equally disturbing. The prison chaplain's pleas for free choice tend to exemplify the theme of the book.
In any case, the Wakesque language that Alex employs, while not entirely opaque, takes a little getting used to, but I found it did not take away from the powerful emotions that the text invokes.
I also suppose that many of us who are anti-Trump fear this kind of proto-fascist dystopian state (which in some ways is a cousin to that of Atwood's Handmaid's Tale) and this is what will make reading this book really resonate.
Read at your own risk O my brothers.
Profile Image for Gabrielle.
1,016 reviews1,184 followers
March 9, 2017
I once had a truly lovely roommate. In my mind, I now think of her as the Yoga Bunny: yes, because she was a yoga instructor, but also because she was the kind of adorable hippy who wants to believe that deep down, everyone is nice and that if you love one another enough, the world’s problems will eventually solve themselves. She was kind, generous and polite to a fault and I do not mean to make fun of her: I really love her very much, but her world view always seemed terribly naïve and somewhat delusional to me. I may be a cynic, but it really struck me like a ton of bricks one evening, when she was looking at my bookcase after asking if she could borrow something to read. She pulled “A Clockwork Orange” off the shelf and asked me what it was about.

“It’s a futuristic dystopian tale about whether it’s better to have the free will to be a bad person or to be forced to be a good person” I replied after a moment’s pause. It was really the best way I could think of summarizing Burgess’ novella.

“Why would anyone want to write… or read anything so horrible?!” she cried, her big eyes suddenly filled with tears. She put the book back on the shelf, grabbed my copy of “Eat, Pray and Love” and promptly retreated to her room to read, and presumably to scrub her ears clean of the terribly offensive idea I had just uttered.

Again, I don’t want to make fun of Yoga Bunny. Her wildly optimistic worldview made the entire idea of Burgess’ masterpiece disgusting. She couldn’t see why people would choose to be bad, hurtful and violent. I did not bother trying to explain that the concept of free will is about much more than just the violent acts committed by the anti-hero Alex: we use free will every day and the point of the book is to get us to think about what it would mean if that capacity to choose was taken away.

And I must say, it is not as violent as some people make it sound: most horror novels contain much more disgusting violence than what is in the pages of this book. And furthermore, Burgess never condones any of the acts committed by Alex and his droogs. That being said, few horror novels manage to be as disturbing as this tiny novella; not because of the violence, but because of the ideas.

Some spoilers ahead.

Alex is clearly a sociopath, who doesn’t feel anything about other people. Their pain, their suffering, their feelings, none of that matters to him. He wants his thrills, whether those are sexual or from getting into a good fight. The Ludovico Technique gives him physical pain when he tries to act on his violent urges, but it doesn’t take his urges away. He still wants to hurt and rape, even if he can’t. Because goodness cannot be imposed on anyone, it always remains a choice. Conditioning him would never “fix” him: therapy and education might, but that’s not the method he is subjected to. Because ultimately, Dr. Brodsky doesn’t care about Alex any more than Alex cared about his victims. He wants to cut down crime, not make people better.

When Alex is freed again, attacked and incapable of defending himself, some readers would probably cheer because he finally gets what he deserves. But I see a more subtle point being made. The point that sometimes, one has to do things that would, under other circumstances, be considered “bad”, for good reasons. Hitting someone is bad; but hitting someone to defend yourself because someone is trying to hurt or kill you isn’t.

When it was originally published in the United-States, the final chapter, where Alex outgrows his sociopathy and becomes “normal”, was removed to give the book a darker tone and ending. Kubrick used that version for his brilliant adaptation (which I watch at least once a year – it’s one of my all-time favorite movies), which concludes with the realization Ludovico Technique has stopped affecting Alex: his favorite music and thoughts of violence no longer hurt him and he is… “cured”. I find both endings equally fascinating. In either case he is cured, but what exactly is he cured of? I love this ambiguity. The book’s original ending suggests that there is a possibility of redemption for everyone (see Yoga Bunny, there are some optimistic passages in this book!), it hints that maturity will eventually smooth out people’s character. I don’t know how much I believe that… but I get the point.

The linguistic tour de force accomplished by Burgess – while irritating at first, until your brain begins to recognize the patterns and cadence – is impressive enough to make it worth the read, regardless of how you feel about the moral dilemma contained within the pages. Russian, Shakespearean turns of phrase and Cockney slang actually blend beautifully, and the Nadsat words are used perfunctorily enough that when you read a sentence in context, you can quickly figure out what every word means. The first 10 pages will be a struggle, and that is why in this specific case, I’d recommend watching the movie before reading the book, just to get familiar with the language. But once you get past the Nadsat hurdle, so to speak, you start understanding the genius of its use: it gives such a rich texture to the text, it puts words on images and feelings that are impossible to associate to a regular English word.

“A Clockwork Orange” is disturbing, gorgeous and horrible all at once. It scares me but I also enjoy it very much. I really think it’s worth the read, unpleasant as it may be at times. And obviously, I also strongly recommend the wonderful Kubrick movie. The music and sets are haunting, and I will always picture Alex as Malcolm McDowell. I’d love to watch it with Yoga Bunny someday, and hopefully seeing this terrible person get tortured in the name of “goodness” will help her think about free will a bit differently.
Profile Image for Jonathan Ashleigh.
Author 1 book118 followers
November 12, 2016
This book was sweet. The way russian was used to show the distopian future was one of the coolest literary devices I have seen. Because I was so enthralled by it, I often read parts more than once to make sure I was getting the meaning right. Everyone should read this book, and then read it again to make sure they got it.
Profile Image for Guille.
784 reviews1,748 followers
June 28, 2020
Tan buena como la película que es una adaptación fidelísima de la novela... si exceptuamos el famoso capítulo 21 que tan necesario le era al autor como prescindible nos parece a Kubrick y a mí.
Profile Image for Anne.
4,060 reviews69.5k followers
December 3, 2022
As far as an enjoyable reading experience goes, I'd say this one is the bottom of the barrel. It's hard to be inside the head of someone who is, for no apparent reason, just an absolutely evil piece of shit.


Now, that's not to say this isn't a worthwhile read.
However, I'm trying really hard to figure out what the point of this book was and coming up with a blank. Like, was there a moral to this story? I don't think so.
The concept was an interesting one, though.
A young psychopath volunteers to get rehabilitated to reduce his jail sentence, never for a moment thinking that it might work.
And it doesn't. Not really. He's still a terrible person, but now when he contemplates anything violent, he gets physically ill.


And the question we are left with is whether or not it would be right to force someone who enjoys raping women and brutalizing the elderly, or really anyone weaker than him, to undergo a form of torture therapy that would make him unable to commit violent acts in the future.
I'm sure there are some people who will disagree with me, but I would say the answer to that is a fairly obvious duh.
If you're not going to kill someone like this outright, which I am also fine with, then I see no problem with castrating their instincts to hurt other people. How is this a problem?
It's not my problem for damn sure.


Does it save their soul? Doubtful. But I don't care about that sort of thing, as I feel everyone is responsible for their own soul or lack thereof. If there is an afterlife, I highly doubt there will be some sort of reckoning or punishment for evildoers. After all, they're only acting this way because of past trauma or some sort of chemical imbalance, right? So if something comes after this, it only makes sense that they'll probably get a second chance to be a decent person.
And now I'm wandering into some kind of philosophical/religious territory better left alone.


In the end, the powers that be feel that what they'd done to him wasn't right, as he had no free will and eventually wanted to kill himself. Everyone felt sorry for him and he was allowed to go back into society with his free will reinstated.


This edition includes the controversial last chapter not published in the first edition and Burgess's introduction "A Clockwork Orange Resucked." <--was what mine said.
Apparently, the US version was missing a part of the story.
Burgess' originally wanted to show that people change as they get older, and that our young heathen is no different. You see in the final chapter that he doesn't find rape and murder as much fun as he used to and is now contemplating settling down with a nice girl and staying in on Friday nights.
Oh. Um. What?
If we're supposed to take that literally, it just makes zero sense.
Most of us got into a bit of mischief when we were teenagers. But I can honestly say that I never found attacking people for the hell of it part of my good times. And I don't think most people do. Something is desperately wrong with you if that's the way you spend your Saturday afternoon, and getting older isn't magically going to fix it.
Now, if this is simply a metaphor for growing up, growing older, and becoming more responsible? It's maybe the worst one I've ever heard.


This was a weird-ass book, and I'm not sure it was actually very good.
There's no real plot as you're just following along for a fairly graphic ride of torture, rape, and brutalization that ends with a very weak conclusion. The fact that you need to learn an entirely new set of slang to translate this book is only a small annoyance in the grand scheme of things, but it was still an epic irritation to me while I was listening to it.
On the flip side, I can see why this is such a cult classic. There's a lot of shock value to almost every page that holds up even now. The gleeful way he describes drugging and raping the tween girls is something that will stick with me for a while.

Tom Hollander - Narrator
Publisher: HarperAudio
Edition: Unabridged
Awards: Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults
Audie Award Nominee
Listen Up Award
Profile Image for Luís.
1,944 reviews609 followers
July 3, 2023
Alex and his gang are the product of a generation where violence is habitual and trivialized. For them, it is not a question of unease or the sign of a revolt but quite simply of a simple distraction. The paradox in the story is that Alex is passionate about classical music, music meant to soften souls and not lead them to depravity.
So their favorite pastime is terrorizing poor people. Physical violence, verbal violence, nothing omitted. Alex is, in a way, the “guru” of his gang since he addresses them by qualifying them as “brothers.”
Alex’s mother, ignorant at the beginning of her son’s actions, eventually surrenders to reality and accepts that a new experience has performed on her son. The doctors in charge of practicing this therapy on Alex will make him listen to classical music (the one that is, in a way, his hymn) while forcing him to watch the worst images of violence of torture on the big screen. Thus, they could sensitize him and make him realize exactly what the word violence means.
The book is a little tricky to access since Anthony Burgess invented a whole language used by Alex and his acolytes, but undoubtedly one of the most outstanding of his time, just like the film directed by Stanley Kubrick in 1971.
Profile Image for Jon Nakapalau.
5,103 reviews724 followers
June 12, 2023
One of my favorite books of all time...but be warned that the ending is different than the ending of Stanley Kubrick's movie (also a classic). Truth be told I prefer the movie ending...but the overall message is the same: when a generation of vipers slithers free who provided the nest they were spawned in? To me this book is the perfect example of how the SA (Sturmabteilung) probably formed: groups of disassociated young men forming 'packs' to roam the city.
Profile Image for Adina .
890 reviews3,543 followers
Shelved as 'abandoned'
January 4, 2022
Nope, sorry, I cannot go on. DNF after the 1st chapter. I read and enjoyed books in Patois and with different accents but I give up trying to understand this book. The invented words were so annoying that I wanted to through my Kindle out of the window.
Profile Image for J.L.   Sutton.
666 reviews927 followers
May 21, 2018
Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange is a fantastic, thought-provoking and immersive read! Don’t be put off by the invented slang. It comes very easily once you begin reading, and adds to the experience. Besides recommending this book, I do have a final thought concerning chapter 21, the chapter which was left out of the published American edition of the novel as well as the iconic film by Stanley Kubrick. I understand Burgess’s desire to show change in his young anti-hero, Alex; however, the transformation in this final chapter defies believability. It’s not that dramatic change is impossible. Rather, forcing this to happen in one chapter cheapens it and makes it feel like an afterthought. It also falls flat. Otherwise, though, I found A Clockwork Orange an incredibly well-crafted and engaging story. 4.5 Stars.
Profile Image for Lisa.
991 reviews3,320 followers
July 27, 2019
"It's funny how the colors of the real world only seem really real when you watch them on a screen."

There are these dystopian visionary books that slowly but steadily move from speculative fiction into the field of painfully realistic portrayals of life as we know and suffer it. Huxley, Orwell and Atwood all saw our ordeal coming, and they created the mood and terror for our era long before we could follow their tracks in the daily news spit out in vicious bits and pieces.

Recently a retired teacher said to me that nobody could have predicted the generation of students we have to deal with today, who float above and beyond the rules that we try to convey to them: be it orthography, vocabulary, democratic processes, newsworthiness of information, priorities for action and life planning or just fundamental rules of polite communication between human beings of equal dignity - they pick and choose what suits them and laugh in our faces if we suggest there is a common agreement on any kind of behaviour. For every example we offer, they find a counterargument within a click-second on the phone, and the question of ethical guidelines morphs into whether or not we have the right to make any choices at all for these adolescents that they don't feel like agreeing to themselves, based on their current predilections.

And I heard myself replying to the older colleague that Anthony Burgess saw it coming in the 60s, and that the question was as hard to answer back then as it is now. Can we actually FORCE students to embrace democracy if they are naturally drawn to charismatic populists? Can we TEACH them critical thinking skills without the imperative and normative value system that turns them into clockwork oranges rather than human beings with a free will and a free choice?

How do human beings compete with their own technological achievements, namely the universal attractiveness of instant internet gratification? How do human beings make choices in a society that offers everything at all hours? That is as difficult to handle as the complete choicelessness that is its opposite - but it is much more time-consuming!

How do we deal with a generation that sets its own rules based on their idea of negotiable values, communicated in a shorthand pigeon language suitable for quick typing on small screens? How do we deal with their participation in the global online reality show that offers 24/7 opening hours for entertainment of all kinds?

Just by the fact that we as teachers are representing a hierarchy we make ourselves impossible in the eyes of a youth whose only wish is to be free, to destroy in order to rise as Phoenix from the ashes. Who does not remember at some point thinking after a lecture of some kind, coming from a place of power:

"And I thought to myself, Hell and blast you all, if all you bastards are on the side of Good then I'm glad I belong to the other shop."

How do we deal with this on a global scale? The answer my friend, is vital to the survival of our species at this point... but blowing in the wind all the same, while the greying droogs are taking over the power in one country after the other, cheered on by a generation of new droogs who believe in the right to destroy what you see if that is what you like to do. "I like, therefore I do", the new credo for a youth that can't be bothered with philosophy.
Profile Image for Steven  Godin.
2,492 reviews2,372 followers
February 17, 2021

First time round I didn't really think that much of this.
For three main reasons.
1. Despite this being something of an 'essential' read before you hit adulthood I wasn't much of a reader then. Maybe two or three books a year. What did I know?
2. I hadn't seen the film (this time around it made a massive difference having Kubrick's visionary masterpiece swirling around in my head).
3. I read a tatty old 70s copy of the novel that looked like it had crawled through a warzone before hiding in someone's underpants for the next 25 years. Discolored pages. Tiny faded text. Mucky. Smelly. Suspicious stains. Just not very nice. Yuck.

Now this mint condition and ever so striking 50th anniversary edition found it's way to me - and it's the Dog's Bollocks! It really is. It's the sort of book that I want keep on my bookshelf with the cover facing outwards and not the spine. You know, like they sometimes do in the bookshops to draw your attention.

The novel itself is without question a work of staggering originality. Sinister & unsettling. Provocative. Damn right addictive. I even couldn't help but read this with a glass of milk or two. And in Alex we have one of the 20th century's most memorable narrators. That slang language - a masterstoke! Basically a way to stand out from others, which creates a stark contrast between the different speech and mind-set of the adults.
Not going to lie - this isn't the easiest of reads, as there is a lot of horrible and nasty goings on here, but it has to be noted that this isn't violence for just for sake of violence. If I wanted that then I'd watch the latest Rambo or something. In theory, it's not really the violence that seeps into your bones, but rather the apathetic view of Alex & co towards it, including their total lack of giving a toss for the age of their victims. Moreover, it was seriously disturbing to read of how their wickedness was simply born out of the common feelings of teenage boredom. Burgess is no fool, and he raises some very important ethical questions that didn't hit me before, such as whether it is better for a person to decide to be bad than to be forced to be good, and whether forcibly suppressing free will is acceptable. I'd say the conditioning methods (the so called 'Ludovico technique') in trying to cure Alex, was just as shocking to read as the brutal violence he and his droogs dished out.

Looks like there is some great additional material included in this version, but I haven't got to it yet. For the novel alone it's got to be a five for me. Maybe the fact that I'm now fully distanced by nearly three decades from the youth here made it a better book for me?
I don't know. Anyway, I'm just glad it came along again and blew me away.
Profile Image for Fernando.
684 reviews1,127 followers
January 3, 2023
-¿Y ahora qué pasa, eh?
Estábamos yo, Alex y mis tres drugos, Pete, Georgie y el Lerdo sentados en el bar lácteo Korova exprimiéndonos los rasudoques y decidiendo qué podríamos hacer esa noche, en un invierno oscuro, helado y bastardo aunque seco."

El 2017 ha sido el año que dediqué en parte a leer varios clásicos y novelas contemporáneas que me faltaban, como “El guardián entre el centeno” de J.D. Salinger, “Robinson Crusoe” de Daniel Defoe, “El inspector” de Nikólai Gógol, “Crónica del pájaro que da cuerda al mundo” de Haruki Murakami, “La caída” de Albert Camus, “Resurrección” de Lev Tolstói, “Los viajes de Gulliver” de Jonathan Swift, “La piedra lunar” de Wilkie Collins y muy especialmente “Don Quijote de la Mancha” de Miguel de Cervantes y el “Finnegans Wake” de James Joyce.
Ahora agrego esta icónica novela de Anthony Burgess.
Debo confesar que me ha gustado mucho leerla. Ha sido un interesante viaje el de Alex por su agitados días de adolescencia. Me imagino lo que debe haber sido leer “La naranja mecánica” en 1962, un libro que anticipó el mundo violento de hoy en el 2017, de la explosión del punk nihilista que generaron bandas como “Sex Pistols” o “The Clash” en 1977 y toda la debacle de clases sociales que se vivió en Argentina a partir de finales de la década del ’70.
Es que la estrella del libro no es Alex ni las andanzas con sus amigos ni el sistema contra el que quieren luchar. Es la violencia. Esa violencia que es parte inherente de todos los seres humanos, de la eterna lucha entre el bien y el mal, de los valores trastocados, perdidos, rechazados y también de aquellos individuos que no encajan en la sociedad, que son marginales, tal vez sin proponérselo y de cómo el sistema (llámese gobierno, sistema de educación o aparato jurídico) trata de convertir lo malo en bueno fallando en gran medida por no entender nunca el asunto.
Pero la violencia alcanza no sólo a Alex, sino a todos los órdenes sociales y a toda escala. A sus amigos, que lo secundan en sus fechorías, a sus padres que no lo comprenden y terminan enemistándose con él, a los directivos de ese “Centro de recuperación” bastante dudoso y clandestino en el que cae y en donde desde el Estado pretenden recuperarlo y supuestamente transformarlo en un ciudadano reformado con el propósito de reinsertarlo en la sociedad.
Claro que los métodos utilizados son tan violentos como los hábitos o naturaleza de Alex y los resultados llegan a ser desastrosos. El aparato de estado quiere arreglar a un individuo que según ellos está descarriado de la manera más inadecuada y cruel. Es como combatir fuego con fuego.
Los capítulos en donde le proyectan las famosas películas y en el que él describe todas las palizas que le propinan, desde que lo detiene la policía y durante su paso por la cárcel me recuerda a las que sufre Winston, el personaje principal de “1984”, la mítica novela de George Orwell.
Todo está impregnado de violencia. Los medios periodísticos y el accionar oportunista de ciertos políticos, que intentan utilizarlo como ejemplo para derrocar al gobierno. Todos quieren sacar rédito de Alex. Es más, las víctimas de sus ataques anteriores intentarán aplicar la misma violencia que recibieron, como buscando reparar lo que ya no pueden.
Hay que destacar la manera en la que Alex (Burgess) narra lo que sucede en esta historia, pero lo que más asombra es la pasmosa naturalidad con la que describe los distintos actos de vandalismo, caos y destrucción en las calles de una semi distópica Inglaterra, donde este personaje tan especial se divierte a sus anchas con sus amigos.
Están fuera de la ley, asaltan, roban, golpean, violan y matan y todo eso está dentro de la normalidad que viven; luego vuelven a sus casas e intentan hacer una vida normal.
En el caso de Alex es por demás paradójico, puesto que su pasión es la música clásica. Escucha a su querido Ludwig van Beethoven o a Mozart o Bach. Esa música inmortal es su cable a tierra, conexión con el mundo real, aunque es lógico que algo no está bien. Podemos entender el estado de efervescencia que los años de adolescente producen en las personas pero en el caso de Alex eso va mucho más allá.
Él es uno de esos personajes tan especiales en la literatura. Personajes que no encajan en ningún molde.
Se puede citar algunos: Holden Cauldfield en “El guardián entre el centeno”, Mersault de “El extranjero” o Ignatius Reilly en “La conjura de los necios”. En Argentina podríamos incluir dos de Ernesto Sábato: Fernando Vidal Olmos, ese oscuro y lunático personaje de “Informe sobre ciegos” o Juan Pablo Castel, el asesino dostoievskiano de la novela “El túnel”.
Esta novela choca también al lector desde el plano lingüístico, dado que Burgess crea el famoso vocabulario adolescente “nadsat”, una jerga o lunfardo en el que Alex y sus amigos reemplazas determinadas palabras o acciones por términos tomados del idioma ruso y aggiornados a su lenguaje. De esta manera, por dar algunos de ejemplos, "golová" significa cabeza, "tolchoco", golpe, "litso" significa rostro y así sucesivamente para muchas otras palabras más.
Confieso que al principio me costó un poco de esfuerzo retener todos estos términos (parecía un dejá-vú del Finnegans Wake cuando comencé a leer las primeras páginas), pero una vez que uno se acostumbra al vocabulario, la lectura se torna muy fluida.
Desde el punto de vista del lenguaje es más que interesante, puesto que significa un desafío para el traductor llevar estos términos a su propio idioma.
Para aquellos que aún no hayan leído esta novela, vaya una pequeña muestra de cómo es el lenguaje nadsat: "Tienes que comprender el tolchoco en la rota, Lerdo. Era la música. Me pongo besuño cuando un veco interfiere en el canto de una ptitsa. Ya entiendes."
Cambiando los términos nadsat, la frase quedaría así: "Tienes que comprender el golpe en la boca, Lerdo. Era la música. Me pongo loco cuando un tipo interfiere en el canto de una chica. Ya entiendes."
En el prólogo del libro y bajo recomendación de un lector de goodreads al cual le agradezco, porque dice que hay que leerlo al final ya que sin quererlo, Burgess genera el spoiler, el autor se queja en cierta medida en cómo le cambió cierto sentido a la lectura del libro en todo aquel que haya visto primero la película de Stanley Kubrick.
Burgess nunca estuvo muy de acuerdo con eso, ya que él sostiene que escribió la novela dividiéndola exactamente en tres partes de 7 capítulos cada uno, o sea 21 (y explica que el sentido era que la suma diera 21, puesto que ese número corresponde a la mayoría de edad), pero los editores de la versión norteamericana, quitaron ese último capítulo ya que ese final es totalmente opuesto al del capítulo 6 de la edición británica.
Aquí entramos en el gusto de cada lector, puesto que a unos les agradará más la primera forma y otros elegirán la segunda opción, la del famoso capítulo 21.
Burgess escribió y eligió el suyo y le sobran los motivos para dicha elección. Kubrick, como era de esperar, termina la película exactamente igual a la versión americana. Yo me quedo con el capítulo 21, el de la edición original, entonces, cuando comencemos a discutir acerca de cuál es el mejor final, parodiaremos la primera frase de esta novela:
"Y ahora qué pasa, ¿eh?"
Profile Image for MJ Nicholls.
2,049 reviews4,119 followers
October 18, 2012
A favourite of my late teens, still a favourite now. The brutality of male blooming and the private patois of our teenhood . . . splattered across this brilliant moral satire, abundant in vibrant, bursting language and a structural perfection: Shakespearean, dammit. Goddamn Shakespearean! nadsat is second only to the language in Riddley Walker for a perfectly rendered invented language that is consistent within the novel’s own internal logic. This book is musical! This book sings, swings, cries and rages! Oh this book, this book! My first encounter with unbridled creativity, intelligence, elegance, thematic unity, this book made me weep for the future of poor sadistic Alex. Oh, he must grow up, he must! But he doesn’t Oh Humble Skimmer, he doesn’t! His nadsat is in place up until his story ends, and all that cal, so Alex remains a perpetual teen, like the boring little shit in Salinger’s unambitious literary haemorrhage (I forget the title). This book, this book! Oh my droogies, oh my Bog . . . nothing hurts so much on your stomachs and your heads and your hearts as this book . . . except maybe having Earthly Powers dropped on your tootsies . . . !!! [collapse into gibberish] !!!
Profile Image for Baba.
3,619 reviews986 followers
June 26, 2022
Anthony Burgess' debatably modern classic is in my mind overshadowed by the Stanley Kubrick movie - although my recommendation is that you most definitely still read the book. Having seen the movie a number of times before reading this, the book had little impact on me and felt a bit dated, and dare I say boring at times!

The speculative fiction core of this tale is pretty spot on and the issues Anthony Burgess raises are timeless. The questions in and around crime and punishment still test us all after a millennia of our existence. 4 out of 12

2006 read
Profile Image for Zain.
1,455 reviews153 followers
September 24, 2023
The Clockwork Wars!

I read this book a long time ago, but I still remember the chaos and horror of the game.

Being able to play the game without a script gets you out of danger of getting squashed like a bug. The problem with the script is that the characters are all very similar in their predilection for violence.

Thanks for reading.

Four stars. ✨✨✨✨
Profile Image for Mark Lawrence.
Author 72 books51.7k followers
February 23, 2023
I read this a great deal of time ago. Before a fair number of those reading this review were born. And the book itself was written before I was born - though not by very many years.

The intervening decades mean that this will be a somewhat vague accounting of the book's merits (in my eyes). It certainly made an impression on me, and the main character, Alex DeLarge, was the inspiration (at least in terms of a number of traits) for the main character in my debut novel, Prince of Thorns - both Alex and Jorg are very young, amoral, violent, and possessed of a certain degree of charm and intelligence.

A Clockwork Orange is, in my estimation, an observation (rather than study) of a phenomenon that is complicated in some ways and simple in others, and mispresented in a whole variety of manners by two-dimensional takes on it. Namely the nature of teenage rebellion (at the sharpest end where it shades into what we would commonly call 'evil') and how society interacts with it, seeking both to curb and cure it, and looks at that interaction both in terms of the damage wrought (in this case violent attacks including rape), the punitive measures taken (prison), the 'treatment' (in this futuristic world (from a 1960s perspective) this comes through both religion and a rather harrowing aversion therapy), the politics, and the final outcome.

The book's delivered in the first person through Alex's point of view with heavy doses of an invented street slang, an argot cobbled together with east European word IIRC. Alex is honest about his dishonesty, almost comical in his semi-tongue in cheek self-pity, and an engaging voice despite his many vile crimes.

One of the book's most interesting (to me) conclusions (I'll call it a conclusion because it's the final note, it's not delivered as a sermon) - is that what mellows our Alex into someone who might eventually be a reasonable person and might live up to the promise of his obvious intelligence and verbal skills, is simply time. He grows up. He casts his wickedness as belonging to the half-child, half-man that he was. The attempts to punish him, cure him, and rehabilitate him weren't significant.

And that's an interesting question at least - at what age does the stain of a person's deeds start to become permanent? We would probably not condemn a 40 year old man because when he was 2 he pushed his 1 year old brother into a fire to see what would happen. If we move that 40 down, and that 2 up ... where does it change. Is there an age at which Alex's crimes should not dog the rest of his life, and if so what is it?

And by making his crimes so terrible, Burgess ups the stakes on that question.

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Profile Image for Carol.
1,370 reviews2,156 followers
August 11, 2019
Let's begin with the Penguin book cover....Too cool for words!

And the novel....It's DARK. While slow going at first, it didn't take long to get the drift of the slang, nadsat talk....all the teens use it, but I recommend staying with it without long interruption once you start.

"It's a stinking world because it lets the young get on to the old like you done, and there's no law nor order no more. I'm not one bit scared of you, my boyos, because I'm too drunk to feel the pain if you hit me and if you kill me I'll be glad to be dead.". So they "cracked into him lovely" and went on their way.

Fifteen year old Alex and his 'droogs' Georgie, Pete and Dim wreak havoc throughout this "horrorshow" of ultra-violence in this 1962 classic. To Alex, everything is a "real horrorshow" something or other....as you will see.

And it's a wicked new world as the boys don their masks, light their 'cancers' and set out about stealing, maiming and gang raping....not to mention murdering without a care in the world. No one is safe....not grandma with her house full of cats (go 'pusspots') or little girls in the music store. (oh my)

Even Alex's Post-Corrective Advisor has had enough and gives warning that a reckoning is due, but Alex knows he has the old baboochkas...."good old girls" as cover. And his parents, they're oblivious....don't go out much, too many hooligans on the street. Ha!

"Everybody knows little Alex and his 'droogs'. Quite a famous young boy our Alex has become."

But a power struggle to stay "real horrorshow" leader causes strife within the ranks forcing Alex to put BIG Dim in his place, then....O my brothers....traitorous 'droogs'.

Alex suffers thru 'viddies' for over a fortnight while in lock-up treatment, but nothing was so satisfying as when we see him experience payback. What goes around, comes around, hehehe.

As filthy dark and horrible as some of the actions are within these pages, believe it or not, it was almost comical because of the slang talk, even the worst of the worst, and I can't even believe I'm saying that.

A CLOCKWORK ORANGE. What a crazy, surprising read! Guess I need to 'viddie' the movie now too.

UPDATE: August 11, 2019 - As for the movie, it follows the story as written with all the ultra-violence, but no bloody gore, the most horrid parts projected in fast-forward mode like a silent movie....and with music. The costumes of the actors are a riot especially Alex's mother....and, of course, the 'droogs'. SO CRAZY!!!

Profile Image for Reading Corner.
88 reviews109 followers
February 14, 2016
This is a dark, compelling read with massive amounts of violent acts and imagery that run throughout the novel. They are definitely vividly described but in one way the violence is slightly censored with the use of the nadsat language, a language teenagers use in the novel. The book doesn't promote violence but instead explores the idea of violence entwined with youth and the morality of free will.

The nadsat language is a little confusing and irritating at the start but with the help of an online reference I quickly remembered what meant what and at times it was easy to decipher the word. The nadsat language quickly grew on me and enriched the narrative of Alex, an aggressive, vicious 15 year old boy who enjoys beating, raping, robbing and killing or any other criminal activity. I enjoyed his narrative as he continuously addresses the reader "O, my brothers," his narrative is interesting as he is a complex character as he is incredibly brutal but is also intellectual as he greatly appreciates classical music such as Beethoven's ninth symphony. His character takes intriguing turns especially at the end when he goes through a drastic change.

This book is definitely one of my favourites as the nadsat language immerses you into the dystopian world and actually makes you think more about what is being said. The story is full of surprises and twists with riveting concepts like whether it is better to choose to live a terrible life full of heinous crimes or forced to be good and abide by the law. This book makes you question society and moral instinct and aids you in fully understanding what is being said with its unique language.
Profile Image for Mareeva.
368 reviews5,987 followers
March 31, 2022
4 stars

It may be horrible to be good. [...] Is a man who chooses the bad perhaps in some way better than a man who has the good imposed upon him?

The audience and the intended affect:

A Linguist's goldmine
A Russian's source of confusion
A Brit's comedy
A Psychologist's topic for conversation
A composer's pride & joy
A criminal's nightmare
My one brain cell's reason for suicide

And this gal's🙋‍♀️ complete loss for words as to wtf she just read.

A terrible grahzny vonny world, really, O my brothers.

PS; it might only be a comedy for deranged brits
Profile Image for Johann (jobis89).
672 reviews4,294 followers
February 2, 2019
”What’s it going to be then, eh?”

In a dystopian world set in the future, where criminals take over the dark, Alex is a juvenile delinquent who talks using an invented slang called Nadsat.

A Clockwork Orange might just the biggest turnaround I’ve ever had in terms of initially hating a book... and then becoming a fan of it by the end. After buying a copy and flicking through it, and seeing some of the writing, I messaged @ab_reads to say “why the hell am I putting myself through this? I should have picked another book for my list” and even as I trudged through the first 30 pages or so I just wanted it to be over... but I’m glad to say that once I got a hold of the slang I found a really outstanding story!

The events and acts of brutality carried out by Alex and his friends are surprisingly violent, but this is masked by the initial confusion surrounding the Nadsat and trying to decipher what is actually happening. A rather interesting technique employed by Burgess that I really appreciated!

After reading I found out that originally the book was released without the final chapter (Chapter 21) in order to give the book a darker tone and a less hopeful ending. However, Kubrick insisted that the chapter be added in as he had intended - and I believe this final part is also excluded from the movie - but I’m not entirely sure which ending I prefer. It’s something I’ll ponder for a while!

I absolutely loved the central themes of choice and free will. Is it better to be conditioned to be good, or is it better to choose to be bad? The story is well-constructed in terms of its structure and I love how everything kind of comes full circle. Really fascinating story-telling.

It’s difficult to recommend, but if you are intrigued do push past the first 30-40 pages because it WILL get easier and the pay-off is worth it. A Clockwork Orange is one of those books that would really benefit from a reread once you’ve nailed the language. Perhaps one day in the future!

3.5 stars.
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